Currie Cup Premier Division will get only tighter
The tightly-fought nature of the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division is expected to continue this weekend as some teams look to build momentum in round two, while others try to find their rhythm following disappointing starts to the tournament.
The Sharks host the MTN Golden Lions at GrowthPoint Kings Park and the Vodacom Blue Bulls meet GWK Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, and on Saturday DHL Western Province take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Cape Town.
As expected all of the coaches opted for continuity in selection with an eye on achieving cohesion within in their teams and allowing their player combinations to settle early on.
Given the quality of the Sharks and MTN Lions loose trios and backlines, in particular, the clash in Durban is expected to feature an entertaining balance of physicality and open play. Adding to the excitement of the clash both teams come off narrow defeats last week at home and will be desperate to get their campaigns on track. In the main changes to the teams, Lions coach Johan Ackermann opted for Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies at pivot, with Marnitz Boshoff moving to fullback, while Southern Kings back SP Marais will earn his first start for the Sharks following his moving to Durban.
Commenting on the clash Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt said: “The Lions will want to get onto the winning track, likewise with us as well. They’re a tough team to play against, they contest the breakdown really well and they defend well around the fringes of the rucks. They are physical but they also like to move the ball around, so defensively, we’ll need to hold our width as well as contain them around the edges.”
Sharks: Odwa Ndungane; SP Marais, Louis Ludik, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo; Butch James, Charl McLeod; Jacques Botes (capt), Jean Deysel, Brynard Stander; Marco Wentzel, Edwin Hewitt; Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick. Replacements: Craig Burden, Rayno Gerber, Peet Marais, Tera Mtembu, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga, Jaco van Tonder.
Golden Lions: Marnitz Boshoff; Deon Helberg, Robert de Bruyn, Dylan des Fountain, Anthony Volmink; Elton Jantjies, Guy Cronje; Willie Britz, Derick Minnie (capt), Jaco Kriel; Hugo Kloppers, Chris van Zyl; Ruan Dreyer, Martin Bezuidenhout, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, CJ van der Linde, Lambert Groenewald, Warwick Tecklenburg, Tian Meyer, Lionel Cronje, Crysander Botha.
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
The battle between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and GWK Griquas, meanwhile, is expected to be a physical affair, and given the vast experience the Kimberly team boasts, the Bulls will face a tough test. The set pieces especially will be decisive, but solid defence will be equally important as both teams have exciting playmakers. Unfortunately for Griquas, however, they will be missing key players lock Ligtoring Landman and flank Marnus Schoeman due to injury, while the Pretoria team have granted burly hooker Willie Wepener permission to take up a contract at the Lions, meaning Callie Visagie will start at hooker.
Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar hoped his team could build on the encouraging form that earned them a draw against Western Province last week, and said: “We did well there (in Cape Town) and you could see it in the way the guys trained this week. We are confident that we can play to our potential again this weekend. There is no doubt Griquas will be a tough opponent. We have seen that there will be no easy matches in the Currie Cup already, so the guys know that they will have to be up for it.”
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Jürgen Visser; Sampie Mastriet, Ulrich Beyers, Francois Venter, Travis Ismaiel; Tony Jantjies, Rudy Paige; Jono Ross (capt), Jacques du Plessis, Wiaan Liebenberg; Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse; Frik Kirsten, Callie Visagie, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Marcell van der Merwe, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Jean Cook, Ruan Snyman, Waylon Murray, Clayton Blommetjies.
GWK Griquas: Gouws Prinsloo; Nico Scheepers, JP Nel, Howard Mnisi, PJ Vermeulen; Francois Brummer, Jacques Coetzee; Burger Schoeman, Jonathan Adendorf, Carel Greeff; Jaco Nepgen, Hilton Lobberts; Lourens Adriaanse, Ryno Barnes (capt), Steph Roberts. Replacements: Matthew Dobson, Nick Schonert, RJ Liebenberg, Leon Karemaker, Marnus Hugo, Du Randt Gerber, Rocco Jansen.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Sindile Mayende, Attie Buitendag
TMO: Johan Greeff
In Cape Town the clash between DHL Western Province and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs is also expected to be entertaining as both teams have the players and skills to play a fantastic brand of running rugby. With wet conditions expected in Cape Town over the weekend, however, the teams could find themselves playing a territorial game. That said home team will be particularly wary of the Cheetahs’ ability to dominate territory and possession, which created headaches for the Lions in the first half last week. On the flip side, the Cheetahs will have their guard up on defence as WP created several try-scoring chances last week, but battled to round many of them off – something they will be determined to improve on this week. The clash will be particularly significant for prop Brok Harris, who will earn his 100th cap for the province. Good news for the Cape side is that hard-running Springbok prop Tiaan Liebenberg has been named on the bench following a long injury layoff.
“The team would like nothing more than rewarding Brok with a victory, but we also want to right the wrongs from last week,” said Western Province coach Allister Coetzee. “We need to cut down our errors and improve our discipline otherwise Free State will make life very uncomfortable for us on Saturday.”
DHL Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Pat Howard, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder; Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie (capt); De Kock Steenkamp, Michael Rhodes; Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Gerbrandt Grobler, Rohan Kitshoff, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Ryan Nell.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Riaan Smit, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule; Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius; Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo (capt); Waltie Vermeulen, Lood de Jager; John-Roy Jenkinson, Hercu Liebenberg, Caylib Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Wian du Preez, Teboho Mohoje, Davon Raubenheimer, Piet van Zyl, Willie du Plessis, Piet Lindeque.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:
Sharks vs MTN Golden Lions
Venue: GrowthPoint Kings Park, Durban
Date: 16 August 2013
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs GWK Griquas
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: 16 August 2013
DHL Western Province vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Date: 17 August 2013